Cuisine Fiend

mushroom ragu


mushroom ragu

You can pick on the name of this recipe as much as you like because I know: Italian ragù or the French ragoût is your plain old stew, transformed by the Italians into meat sauce for pasta. Meat is the operative word there since it is a meat dish in both the originating countries, be it beef or pork or pigs ears.

The French are currently debating a ban on the use of meat-based dishes for vegetarian food so there will be no more vegan sausages or cauliflower steaks there. Considering that I quite agree with the notion, what am I doing here with this ragù?

heston's mushrooms

Ah well, it wasn’t me, guv’nor, honest. It was Heston Blumenthal and I’ll let him fight the battle with the French alone. And what might we call this instead, to appease them? Mushroom sauce? It sounds incredibly boring and is misleading as the mushrooms are chunky and the liquid is scarce. Mushroom casserole? It’s cooked on the hob and that’s not a casserole in my books. Creamy mushrooms? Pur-lease.

creamed mushrooms

So I’ll stick with the name and skulk around while Heston takes the blame. It is, truly, a masterly recipe and the addition of tomato ketchup a stroke of genius. An excellent pasta sauce or a side to a steak – and I could just eat it on its own.

mushroom ragu

Servings: 2-4Time: 20 minutes


  • 25g (2 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 2 large echallion shallots, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 450g (1 pound) mixed mushrooms: shiitake, chestnut, wild, exotic or cup
  • 60ml (¼ cup) sweet dessert wine, like vin santo or madeira
  • 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp. tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 60ml (¼ cup) double cream
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley


1. Melt the butter in a large skillet or a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until softened, for about 10 minutes.

2. Chop the mushrooms roughly. Brown them in batches, in a separate pan in hot oil and add to the shallots.

cooking onions

3. Add the wine and cook it down to reduce; it will only take a minute or two. Add the ketchup, tomato puree, soy sauce and cook a little longer if there’s much liquid in the mushrooms.

cooking mushrooms

4. Add the cream and cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Squeeze in some lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

5. Serve over pasta or as a side to a steak or roast beef.

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